Carrie Derick (1862–1941)

Carrie Derick was Canada’s first female university professor. She was also known as a social reformer worked tirelessly to promote her far-reaching vision of political and educational equality for women.

Derick received her BA while earning the highest marks in the University, and winning several prizes. The following year, she became the first female instructor at McGill.  Derick worked part time as a botany demonstrator, and was recommended for a full-time lecturer’s position in 1896. But the University’s Board of Governors would not allow a woman to occupy the position. Derick then took on the position of botany demonstrator full-time, and was paid less than a man with a BA would receive.

After having earned a PhD at the University of Bonn (though the university refused to grant it to her because she was a woman), she returned to McGill to continue her research. Her work was crucial in the early development of Genetics studies at McGill and was of sufficiently high quality for her to be listed in “American Men of Science” in 1910 in “acknowledgement of her status as a distinguished scientist”. In 1912, she was finally appointed a full professor (Comparative Morphology and Genetics) at McGill. Her research on heredity was read by scientists around the world and paved the way for the future developments in the field of genetics.